Dementia is a major concern among elderly adults. If you’re a senior or you’re taking care of an elderly relative, you may have concerns about dementia. While some factors, like aging and genetics, are beyond your control, many experts believe that lifestyle changes can reduce your risk by as much as 30% or more.
WHAT STUDIES SHOW ABOUT DEMENTIA
In fact, a recent study found one more way to help your brain stay healthy in your golden years. According to researchers at Yale University, a positive attitude about aging could cut your risk of dementia in half.
Discover how you can boost brainpower, enhance your mood, restore energy levels, and nourish and protect your brain.
You have to know, that dementia is not a normal part of aging. It is a set of symptoms that often includes a decline in memory and other daily functions. It can be very debilitating and can lead to physical deficits as well. This can include the inability to take care of one’s self or handle one’s life and daily responsibilities for self-care.
Protect yourself and your loved ones by learning how to embrace aging and develop other healthy habits.
STRATEGIES FOR CHANGING YOUR ATTITUDE ABOUT AGING
Stay positive, reframe your thoughts. Changing your attitude about aging can make a difference. You’re in control of how you respond to situations, so replace negative beliefs with more affirming ones. Learn from setbacks and use hardships to make you stronger and braver.
Stay in touch, stay connected. Surround yourself with family and friends who nurture and encourage you. Ask for help when you need it.
Let out those funny bones! Laugh more. Try to see the humorous side of difficult events. Schedule time in your day to play with your grandchildren or watch a funny movie.
Be an advocate for aging. Studies also show that experiencing age discrimination can intensify negative beliefs about aging. Speak up when you see incidents of ageism at work or in the media.
Stay active, exercise that body. Aim to work out at least 3 days a week for at least 30 minutes. Exercise can help to protect you from heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, which are some of the most common conditions that raise your risk for dementia.
It’s time to quit smoking. Using tobacco harms your brain by interfering with your circulation. If you have had trouble giving up cigarettes in the past, try a different method or a combination of approaches.
Shed that extra weight. Shedding excess pounds benefits your brain as well as your body. Even a modest 5% loss can have dramatic effects.
Cut down on alcohol intake. Heavy drinking makes you more vulnerable to dementia. The Centers for Disease Control recommends no more than one drink a day for women and two for men.
Keep that brain working. Exercise strengthens your brain just like lifting weights builds your muscles. Enjoy word puzzles or Sudoku. Study a foreign language or practice playing a musical instrument.
Check your hearing. Scientists are discovering more evidence about the link between hearing loss and dementia. Many experts believe that this is because hearing impairment causes social isolation and also makes the brain work harder to process sounds, leaving fewer resources available for other mental activities.
Sit less. Prolonged sitting can take its toll on your mental and physical health even if you exercise regularly. The most effective strategy may be to shift positions often among sitting, standing, and walking.
Spot early signs.The first visible symptoms of dementia frequently include memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and confusion. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can often delay the onset of further symptoms. Talk with your doctor and get routine checkups.
Stay mentally sharp and active by lowering your risk of dementia. A positive attitude and a healthy lifestyle will give you more years to spend with your loved ones and enjoy your favorite pastimes.
Seniors – Stay Fit, Trim, and Healthy with Safe Exercises
Older adults have a lot to gain by regular exercise. Staying active can improve your physical and mental health and extend your ability to live independently. Below are some tips for developing a beneficial exercise program and sticking to it.
1.Work onIncreasing your endurance.Aerobic exercise like walking or biking is great for your heart and circulation. Swimming is especially good for seniors because you get a total body workout with low impact and little risk of injuries. Aim for about 30 minutes of moderate activity daily.
2.Build your strength. Your muscle mass declines with age, but resistance training two to three times weekly can help offset that loss. To be safe, start off with easy exercises and progress by increasing weights and repetitions gradually. You may want to visit a local gym or take a class at a senior center.
·If you prefer working out at home, you can buy weights or use household items like cans of soup, half a gallon of water, bags of rice, etc. You can get creative with what you can lift. I have patients who have used a hammer, crowbar, and other tools!
3.Staying flexible. Stretching will keep you limber and help protect you from injury. Do it as often as possible – daily is great! Warm up with some light aerobics and then ease into a stretch gently. Hold your stretch for about 30 seconds. Repeat each movement a few times, gradually extending your range
·It’s good to feel some slight tension, but if you experience any pain, stop and withdraw back to a more comfortable position.
4.Work toImprove your Balance. Balance is a must for older adults. Protect yourself from falls and broken bones or fractures by working on your balance. Falls are one of the leading causes of death in older adults over 65 years old. Tai Chi is another low-impact activity ideal for seniors. It promotes balance and strength. Even just practicing standing on one foot can enhance your stability.
(Above Video: Facts about Balance and Falls in the Elderly)
(Above Video: A Sample of a Specialized Tai Chi Based Exercise Program)
You can incorporate simple balance exercises in your everyday chores. Here are some tips:
By the sink or kitchen counter when doing dishes or cooking:
1. SINGLE LEG STANDING: Stand straight, stand on one leg lifting one leg high up off the floor. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 seconds. Repeat on the other leg for another 5 – 10 secs, Repeat as many as you are able. Holding this exercise longer facilitates more muscle recruitment that helps with increasing strength and stability.
2. HEEL AND TOE RAISES. Standing and holding on to the kitchen counter or sink, go up on tiptoes and hold this for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, rock back and stand on your heels, toes up off the floor and hold for 5 – 10 seconds. Repeat as many times as able.
3. MINI SQUATS. Still holding on to the kitchen counter, bend both knees to squat just halfway down and whatever you can tolerate. Hold this for 5 seconds, then get back up with knees straight. Repeat for up to 10 times, or whatever you can tolerate. This helps strengthen the muscles of the legs especially the quadriceps muscles that can help improve the strength necessary for going up and downstairs, steps, or curbs.
👉👉👉(For more info on balance exercises, Email me at email@example.com)
STICKING TO YOUR EXERCISE PROGRAM
1.Set realistic goals. A regular workout routine is safer and more beneficial than scattered efforts. Keep yourself motivated by establishing realistic goals. Find activities that you can easily incorporate into your daily schedule such as cutting back on TV viewing to go for a daily swim. When your favorite program is on, you can even exercise during commercials.
2.Have fun.Think about the pastimes you love and expand upon them. When your grandkids visit, go for a long walk through the park. If you get tired of using the treadmill alone every day, sign up for a yoga class with a buddy whose company you enjoy.
3.Make contingency plans.Life events will sometimes interrupt your normal schedule. While traveling, look for hotels with fitness centers. If it’s too cold to ride your bike outdoors, browse the public library for exercise videos for seniors.
MORE SAFETY TIPS TO CONSIDER
1.Talk with your doctor.If you’ve been sedentary for a while, your doctor can advise you on how to get moving safely. No matter what health issues you may experience, there is usually some form of exercise that you can engage in even if you need to modify the standard positions.
Proper breathing will help you maintain good form. Generally, you exhale when you exert effort and inhale when you relax. So breathe out when you lift a dumbbell and breathe in when you lower it.
3.Drink plenty of water. We all know about the benefits of hydration to the body.Your body needs water regardless of whether you’re sweating. By the time you’re thirsty, you’ve gone too long without drinking.
4.Wear the right footwear.Shoes can make a difference in your walking pattern and stability. You can exercise without spending a fortune on expensive equipment, but good shoes are worth the cost. Get protective footwear that’s designed for your chosen sport, whether it’s golf or tennis. If tying laces is a struggle, Velcro closures will give you a secure fit.
Exercise is a great way for older adults to stay healthy and fit. Follow simple safety precautions so you can remain active and enjoy the pastimes you love.
1. Maximize your range of motion. People with arthritis often try to cope with the pain by holding their joints in bent positions that feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, this causes further loss of mobility Exercise helps to keep your joints as flexible as possible and prevent further damage.
Discover how you can boost brainpower, enhance your mood, restore energy levels, and nourish and protect your brain.
There are many gadgets you can use for strengthening your hands: Stress balls, hand gripper exercises, finger bands, etc. Ask a therapist about exercise programs for painful arthritic hands.
2. Strengthen your muscles and bones. Strong muscles and bones provide more support and protection for fragile joints. Weight-bearing exercises build up muscle and thicken your bones.
3. Lose excess weight. You burn a lot more calories when you’re moving around, which of course helps with weight loss. A more active lifestyle will help you reach and maintain your ideal weight without resorting to dangerously low-calorie diets.
4. Improve cardiovascular fitness. Endurance exercises that are gentle on your joints will make your heart work more efficiently without aggravating your arthritis. You’ll feel more energetic and reduce your risk for many health conditions including heart disease and obesity.
5. Make daily activities easier. Stiff joints interfere with daily pleasures and tasks, from playing with your grandchildren to just buttoning a shirt. Exercise improves your ability to function and live independently.
6. Boost your mood. Living with chronic pain may cause depression. Physical activity elevates your mood and helps you sleep better. You can even make new friends by enrolling in group classes like Tai chi or water aerobics.
Top Exercises for Arthritis:
1. Design a balanced program. A well-designed fitness program includes exercises for flexibility, strength, and endurance. Stop what you’re doing if you feel any sharp pain. This conventional wisdom for exercisers is even more important when dealing with arthritis.
2. Stretch. Daily flexibility moves will help restore your range of motion. Warm-up with a little walking in place and do these exercises in a controlled manner. One simple stretch for fingers is to massage your hands. Then, alternate extending and closing your fingers into a loose fist.
3. Train for strength. Strengthen your muscles with resistance exercises using weights, elastic bands, or your own body weight. For example, target your knees by sitting in a chair and slowly straightening and bending each leg.
4. Perform low-impact aerobics. Walking, aqua aerobics and stationary bicycles are just a few examples of endurance activities that are easy on your body. Exercising in warm water is especially good because the temperature and buoyancy protect damaged joints.
Additional Safety Tips:
1. Talk with your doctor. Be sure to talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise program to find the best approach for your type of arthritis. Your physician can recommend safe activities and help you avoid injury.
2. Build up gradually. Start conservatively and progress gradually. When you’re comfortable with walking in water, you may want to add more intense movements like leg lifts.
3. Modify your workouts during flare-ups. Your doctor can advise you about exercising during flare-ups. You may need to rest or modify your program to alleviate pressure on the affected joints.
4. Find the best time of day for you. Many people experience morning stiffness, so experiment to find the best time of day for you. Taking a warm shower first or using a heat pack may also make exercising more comfortable.
5. Work with physical or occupational therapists. Therapists with experience working with arthritis can provide more guidance. They can help you learn to move safely during your workouts and all your daily activities.
Exercise makes it easier to live with arthritis. Manage your pain and stay healthy with safe and regular workouts using activities that you enjoy.
FALLS IN THE ELDERLY CONTINUE TO RISE. IT IS DEVASTATING. The implications of falls have long been brought to light by researchers and statisticians alike. The economic impact upon the government is staggering.
Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall.
Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
The enormity of the problem has prompted diverse programs involving over 70 national organizations involved in Fall prevention, The Falls Free National Action Plan by the NCOA.
The plan includes action steps of reducing the impact of medications as a risk factor, promoting physical mobility, and improving home safety. Fall risk assessment and screenings, promoting evidence-based programs also is a major component of this national initiative.
More Fall Prevention Programs have surfaced and a majority of these promote exercise programs designed to reduce falls in the elderly. Tai Chi has been widely recognized as an effective exercise program for fall prevention.
Tai Chi Principles for Falls Prevention in Older People
The following notes are suggestions for incorporation into a Tai Chi program specifically targeting fall prevention in older people.
The key element in preventing a fall. Balance has been shown to decrease with age; however, some aspects of balance can be enhanced through training.
Key elements to incorporate into a Tai Chi program:
> relaxes muscles > lowers the center of gravity Lowered center of gravity > increases load on lower limbs > over time increases sensation and awareness of lower limb movement.
• Transfer of Weight:
Shifting body weight from leg to leg through incremental movements. Start with a small range of movement and gradually build up to a wide, square base stance.
• Muscle strength
Muscle bulk and therefore strength decrease with age. A bent-knee stance and movement work to strengthen lower limb muscle (particularly the quadriceps muscles) (however, always work to an individual’s limitations. If a bent knee stance is too difficult, then do the movement without bent knees).
This involves issues such as increased body sway, low mobility, and postural instability. Increasing age is also associated with reduced sensation in lower limbs and is consequently associated with a loss of righting reflexes and an increase in body sway, which can lead to falls.
Decreased stepping height and decreased stride length. Women tend to have a narrow walking and standing base, closer foot placement, erect posture > difficulty stepping down from stools/benches. Men tend to have a small-stepped gait, wider walking and standing base, and stooped posture.
Tai Chi addresses gait problems by teaching the “correct” movement of lower limbs. This is done by lifting lower limbs from the knee rather than the foot; lifting lower limbs without misaligning the pelvis, and teaching to place heel down first when moving forward (toes first when moving back). Also, teaching movement with appropriate weight transfer, posture, and slightly bent knees improves stride length
Tai Chi also teaches participants to maintain a relaxed posture with an elongated spine.
Tai Chi consists of moving from one stance to another in a slow, coordinated, and smooth way. This trains students in improved mobility and increased body awareness.
C. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults.
D. Falls result in more than 2.8 million injuries treated in emergency departments annually, including over 800,000 hospitalizations and more than 27,000 deaths.
The enormity of the problem has prompted diverse programs involving over 70 national organizations engaged in Fall prevention, The Falls Free National Action Plan by the NCOA.
It is no surprise that initiatives have been in place focused on Fall Prevention in the elderly. Fall screens are being implemented to assess a patient’s risk for falls. Examples for these balance and fall risk assessments are the TUG (Timed Get Up and Go Test), The Berg Balance Test, The Tinetti Balance Assessment, Functional Reach, Dynamic Gait Index, and many more.
The John Hopkins medicine organization has come up with their assessment tool for the assessment and identification of fall risk patients in the acute setting.
This article, however, will discuss more prevention and will provide helpful exercise tips to improve balance. There are many exercise equipment and tools available for use in the physical therapy/rehab setting. Will be sharing more of them in the future. The focus of this article, however, is the Airex Foam Balance Pad. It is easily available in stores and Amazon. They come in different sizes, and lately, in different colors.
These are now available in different brand names available in the market. They are widespread in gyms, in gymnastics and dance schools, in elite sports performance facilities.
They come in different shapes nowadays: Square, rectangular, oval, and long/balance beam type shape. The square ones are the most popular. It is easily available in stores and Amazon. Lately, in different colors too.
Why Airex Foam? Airex is a specialty cross-linked polymer foam core. It contains millions of air bubbles trapped inside the material; This air is displaced once subjected to force or pressure or loading; Once the force shifts, however, it can return to its original form (Memory).
Unlike memory foam, the Airex foam is more rigid and condensed and can withstand constant use.
Many brands are currently in use at therapy clinics. Moreover, this is a personal assessment: Not all Airex Foams are created equal. They have gotten better over the years. However, some models are still easily worn out and torn.
Airex Foam balance pads have been an excellent adjunct to balance exercise I prescribe to patients I see. It has proved useful in different cases.
APPLICATIONS IN THE CLINICAL SETTING:
1. POST SURGICAL CONDITIONS – In our outpatient setting, we see patients as early as Day 1 Post-op: Knee Replacements, Hip Replacements, Arthroscopic procedures for meniscus tears, ACL tears. (Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear)/PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament tears)
The Airex Foam in these stated conditions allows exercise that is less irritating and painful in recovering soft tissue and joints while still getting the benefit of the high amplitude of muscle contractions supporting or traversing these joints.
2. ARTHRITIC CONDITIONS – For patients plagued by joint pains, especially on the hips and knees, weight-bearing exercises or high-impact exercises can cause significant misery. These activities create too much friction inside a joint that is already inflamed, irritated, and structurally damaged.
Working on lower extremity strengthening using an Airex Foam Pad promotes tolerance to exercises in the standing posture. While weight-shifting and doing exercises on the foam, one can get significant muscle contractions.
The quality muscle contractions triggered is due to the instability that the Airex Foam provides challenging the user to always orient the trunk towards the center of gravity so as not to lose balance.
Since these exercise forms are usually maintained or sustained for a prolonged number of seconds ( 5 – 10 seconds often, and I let the patient count ), there is an increase in the recruitment of muscle fibers necessary for regaining strength, motor control, stability, and proprioception. Proprioception is described as one’s ability to perceive body parts positioning in space while performing specific tasks.
3. PARKINSON’S DISEASE PATIENTS – Parkinson’s patients have incoordination problems and movement disturbance. Tremors are typical in hands, the rigidity of the trunk, and shuffling gait.
Standing on an Airex Foam promotes protective righting reactions during exercises requiring weight shifting. Activities that let the patient do reaching tasks away from the midline also improves the trunk stability needed for fall prevention.
4. VERTIGO & DIZZINESS– Conflicting input to the vestibular pathways cause vertigo. Caused either by problems in the brain or the inner ear, it creates anxiety for fear of falling.
Falls are frequent in dizzy patients due to the diminished ability to regain control of the body during motions that occur with daily tasks. Vestibular exercises using the Airex Foam, in conjunction with Vestibular Rehabilitation in Physical Therapy, can improve the patient’s ability to compensate for balance deficits.
5. PATIENTS WITH WALKING DIFFICULTIES – Gait difficulty and gait abnormality are typical. Often seen in patients with musculoskeletal or neuromuscular conditions.
Those, as mentioned earlier, can be attributed to a generalized weakness or muscle imbalance in the left or right side of the body. A patient or user standing on an Airex Foam while doing balance exercises forces the antigravity muscles to activate.
These muscles are responsible for opposing the effects of gravity. Hence the name. These are the gastrocsoleus, the quadriceps, the gluteus maximus, and the muscles of the back.
6. POST STROKE PATIENTS – The residual deficits from a stroke are very evident. One-sided weakness or paralysis, asymmetry in the facial muscles, slurred speech, and gait abnormality. Often, many sufferers sustain unilateral neglect or inattention. A person is missing the seat or running into one side of the door as they do not perceive objects on the affected hand.
Using the Airex Foam to encourage weight-bearing on the affected side. With the support, of course, this activity improves proprioception. It forces the weak hemiplegic side to participate in the effort.
One might say the residual deficits are too involved, but personally and as to experience, the brain’s neuro-plasticity fascinating. Such is the brain’s ability to re-wire and re-route around the damaged areas of the brain. It also allows for the compensatory ability to restore function using other components not primarily wired for such original use.
Constant reinforcement and subjection to balance and movement challenges will force the brain to find a way to deal with such a problem. Restoration of movement and function can be re-established. Although not as distinct as the original motion, it allows the person to perform self-care and basic mobility tasks necessary for functional independence.
7. BACK PAIN AND SPINE PATHOLOGIES – Back pain sufferers have one thing in common: altered posture. Altered posture is due to compensatory movements adopted by the body to avoid pain triggers. However, as this becomes a habit, it also marks the commencement of the pain cycle.
Doing core exercises in different postures using an Airex Foam strengthens the core, providing destabilization due to its unstable surface. Muscle recruitment is enhanced due to the body’s compensatory reaction to maintain control and center of gravity during these exercises.
There are more conditions where the use of Airex Foam optimizes results and benefits. The Airex Foam is also being used by elite and high-performing athletes to bring about more strength, flexibility, agility, and power.
Consult with a physical therapist for therapeutic exercises using the Airex Foam that is appropriate for your specific condition or issues.